The sum of doings (karma) matters; it goes into how one's future becomes (as a factor for determining the present life and possible lives ahead too). There are many teachings under that "umbrella" overview.
1. There are other teachings . . .
"Whatever one thinks at the time of death, accordingly one becomes that . . ." (Lahiri statement in the Garland of Letters, No 68).
The Lahiri saying is rooted in one old teaching. Some tone down that teaching to "The Vedic scriptures say that a man will be born in his next birth as that thing about which he was thinking most at the time of his death," but such teachings are not the only ones in the matter. It may be wise to consider that what you are counts a whole lot too, and the weight of your total karma, sanchit karma, for example. [Karma teachings summed up] [Cf. Near-Death Experiences]
Nonetheless, a story from ancient India:
The deer and last thoughts
A fabled king, Bharata, had a pet deer and thought of the animal when dying. In his next life he became a deer, the scriptures tell. As a deer he had these secret thoughts written down, "How foolish of me to have . . . become attached to an animal? And now I suffer for it."
When that suffering deer died, it was reborn as a human, and that happened the next time around too. At that time the boy who was born had no attachment to his family and did not speak. His father died, and his brothers gave him up as an idiot. He was now a ripe sage who dressed scantily and roamed about and other things in that vein. (WP, "Jadabharata")
[The story appears in the second section of the Vishnu Purana and the Bhagavata Purana (canto five), and still more texts.]
Reflect: An old tale, is that fine proof?
Does fear of frogs relate to past lives?Opinions differ, and sometimes widely. Shyama Lahiri:
Some will be fearful seeing frogs; some will hold the frogs by hand; some will be very down [depressed] by the death of a son; and some will not grieve by the death of a son - observing these facts, it is proved [!] that propensity to act from the very childhood generates from the remembrance of previous lives. - Lahiri saying (in Satyeswarananda 2006, IV:477)
All may not agree about the validity of this sort of proof.
If you glimpse your nose at the moment of death, may all of you become a nose in your next life? Or what if your last though is, "Where did that fly come from?"
If you have sought to live well, it seems morbid to be morphed into a speck of dust on your nose if that is what you think of at the moment of death.
If the final thought is "Farewell," what then? Further help to consider:
I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis. - Humphrey Bogart, last words
As for Gaius Caligula's "I am still alive!", the "last thought" lore fails.
In a Wider Perspective
Other teachings say that karma amassed through several lifetimes is portioned out and blend in throughout this life and lives to come. Buddha teaches that what matters for future lives is the sum of your deeds - thoughts, works - through a life-time and previous life-times - that is a part of Buddha's karma teachings.
Also worth noting: In his saying, Lahiri does not speak of the first thoughts you get concerned with right after dying. But others do. There is the Tibetan Book of the Dead. (Freemantle and Trungpa 2007; Sogyal Rinpoche 2002; Freemantle 2001; Coleman and Jinpa 2006).
Buddha says a future life is portioned out as one-life package of what you have done in many lives, but also what has been done to you". Some sides to you might need to be redressed, is an underlying idea.
If we do not seem to fathom all the factors that might go into the subtle art of living and dying along and trying to improve soundly too, we may be helped by our developed, sound focus anyway. That is just what meditation skills are for, and what adepts teach.
2. Thinking about the extraordinary but only fancied, do you end up like that - extraordinary, but just fancied?
The husband who goes to his wife with a sense of attachment takes birth in the womb of his wife. But doubt generates when he cannot accept his son as himself. - Lahiri saying (in Satyeswarananda 2006, II:126
Now, suppose you die, thinking "I am Krishna." The word 'krishna' carries many other meanings than Hare Krishna. "I am an evil demon crow" or "I am an evil and dark antelope" (see Sanskrit (See Monier Williams' Sanskrit-English Dictionary and Sanskrit Dictionary for Spoken Sanskrit). To be formed into an evil crow may not be what you meant, but maybe you got misunderstood. When a word has many meanings, it might open up for not just wrong interpretations, but wrong, concrete outcomes too.
It could be very wise to keep things floating for a while. Jumping to conclusion and a faith may maim and victimise. Hence, it may be wise to keep conclusions at bey, in suspensio.
3. "I assume human form"-
"When all is One, how could there be birth? Since you have no birth, how could there be death?" - Shyama Lahiri (in Satyeswarananda 2006, I:260)
"The attainments of previous lives automatically accrue in the next life." - Shyama Lahiri (in Satyeswarananda 2006, IV:325)
"An enlightened person looks at a learned and humble Brahmana, an outcast, even a cow, an elephant, or a dog with an equal eye." (Bhagavad Gita 5;18).
To assume a lot is sloppy.
Having a good life may be a fruit of competing well enough if you are not on the wrong side. Kurt Levin's credo is much appropriate: "There is nothing as practical as a good theory". (in Aronson et al. 2016, 41). Getting an education is in part for getting to good theories. Behind many skills lie theories, formal or informal ones.
A few tenets - one is by Adi Shankara and one is by Guru Dev, aka. Sri Brahmananda.
Spiritual teachings . . . cannot throw light on the inner Self, for the Self is Light. [Guru Dev, Sri Brahmananda]
A Vedic teaching: "Don't overlook your deep Self within." We may experience it.
Aronson, Elliot, Timothy D. Wilson, Robin M. Akert, Samuel R. Sommers. 2016. Social Psychology. 9th ed. Boston: Pearson Education.
Bennett, Bo. Logically Fallacious: The Ultimate Collection of over 300 Logical Fallacies. Updated Academic ed. Sudbury, MA: eBookIt.com., 2013.
Coleman, Graham, and Thupten Jinpa, eds. The Tibetan Book of the Dead: First Complete Translation. Tr. Gyurme Dorje, introduction by Dalai Lama XIV, Paperback ed. London: Penguin Books, 2006.
Freemantle, Francesca. Luminous Emptiness: Understanding the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, 2001.
Rinpoche, Guru, according to Karma Lingpa. The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation through Hearing in the Bardo. Trs and comms. Francesca Fremantle and Chogyam Trungpa London: Shambhala, 2007.
Satyeswarananda, Swami, tr. 2006. The Complete Works of Lahiri Mahasay: Vol. 1. Gitas and Sanghitas. San Diego, CA: Sanskrit Classics.
Satyeswarananda, Swami, tr. 2006. The Complete Works of Lahiri Mahasay: Vol. 2. The Chandi: Glories of the Goddess and the other Scriptures. Rev. 2nd ed. San Diego, CA: Sanskrit Classics.
Satyeswarananda, Swami, tr. 2006. The Complete Works of Lahiri Mahasay: Vol. 4. The Six Systems Saradarsan: In Quest of Self Within In the Light of Breath. Rev. 2nd ed. San Diego, CA: Sanskrit Classics.
Sogyal Rinpoche. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. Eds. Patrick Gaffney and Andrew Harvey. Rev. and updated ed. London: HarperCollins, 2002.
Harvesting the hay
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